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Tax Day: Obama reforms v. conservatives' 'tea party' revolt

Dressed in Boston Tea Party themed costumes, tax protesters rally in Santa Barbara on April 4, 2009

Republicans have been planning for this April 15 tax deadline for months.

In February, CNBC's Rick Santelli sparked the movement with a rant heard 'round the world, one that generated more than a million views on YouTube. Surrounded by cheering traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, he complained that President Obama's policies were requiring Americans to "subsidize the losers' mortgages" and called for a "Chicago tea party" to demonstrate public outrage.

Ever since, conservatives have planned to use the April 15 deadline not only to highlight their opposition to the administration's bailout of AIG and GM -- part of the stimulus package they claim isn't stimulating the economy -- but also to showcase their new prowess in grassroots organizing.

Borrowing a page from the Obama presidential campaign, and harking back to the Boston Tea Party in 1773 that saw colonialists protesting British taxation without representation, conservative and libertarian websites have been churning for weeks, organizing today's rallies, via, all over the country.

Just like the one pictured above, with activists wearing Boston Tea Party-themed costumes in Santa Barbara on April 4 (California's always a trendsetter, so maybe they were starting early.)

Jason Norrett, a 34-year-old stay-at-home dad in Boise, Idaho, explained why he created a blog, Tea Party 2009, saying, "I just had to do something to voice my frustration."

At the White House, Obama expressed frustration too. Surrounded by working families struggling to pay for college or keep their mortgages, the president said, "I know that April 15 is not exactly everyone's favorite date on the calendar."

Touting his cuts "to those Americans who need them," Obama promised to pursue wholesale reform of the monstrous U.S. tax code.

We need to simplify a monstrous tax code that is far too complicated for most Americans to understand, but just complicated enough for the insiders who know how to work the system. I’ve started by asking Paul Volcker and my Economic Recovery Board to do a thorough review of how to simplify our tax code, and to report back to me by the end of this year. It will take time to undo the damage of years of carve-outs and loopholes. But I want every American to know that we will rewrite the tax code so that it puts your interests over any special interest. And we will make it quicker, easier, and less expensive for you to file a return, so that April 15 is not a date that is approached with dread each year.

Read the full text of the president's tax day remarks below.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo: Reuters


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                             April 15, 2009


Room 350
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

12:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  I decided not to bring Bo today -- because he stepped on my economic speech yesterday.  (Laughter.)

Good morning.  I know that April 15th isn't exactly everyone's favorite date on the calendar.  But it is an important opportunity for those of us in Washington to consider our responsibilities to the people who sent us here and who pay the bills.  And I've brought some friends of mine who sent me here and pay the bills.

Across America, families like the people who join me have had tough choices forced upon them because of this economic downturn.  Many have lost a job; many are fighting to keep their business open.  Many more are struggling to make payments, to stay in their home, or to pursue a college education.  And these Americans are the backbone of our economy, the backbone of our middle class.  They're the workers, the innovators, the students who are going to be powering our recovery.  So their dreams have to be our own.  They need a government that is working to create jobs and opportunity for them, rather than simply giving more and more to those at the very top in the false hope that wealth automatically trickles down.

And that's why my administration has taken far-reaching action to give tax cuts to the Americans who need them, while jump-starting growth and job creation in the process.  We start from the simple premise that we should reduce the tax burden on working people, while helping Americans go to college, own a home, raise a family, start a business and save for retirement. 
Those goals are the foundation of the American Dream, and they are the focus of my tax policy.

First, we've passed a broad and sweeping tax cut for 95 percent of American workers.  This tax cut was a core focus of my campaign, it was a core component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and it is the most progressive tax cut in American history.  And starting April 1st, Americans saw this tax cut in the extra money that they took home with each paycheck.

Make no mistake:  This tax cut will reach 120 million families and put $120 billion directly into their pockets, and it includes the most American workers ever to get a tax cut.  This is going to boost demand, and it will save or create over half a million jobs.  And the Congressional Budget Office has found that tax cuts like these for American workers are more than three times more effective in stimulating recovery than tax breaks for the very wealthiest Americans.

This tax cut also keeps a fundamental promise:  that Americans who work hard should be able to make a decent living.  It lifts more than 2 million Americans out of poverty.  And together with the child tax credit, it ensures that a working parent will be able to support their family.

Second, we are helping small businesses keep their doors open so they can weather this economic storm and create good jobs.  Instead of the normal two years, small businesses are now allowed to offset their losses during this downturn against the income they've earned over the last five years.  And this could provide a record number of refunds for small businesses, which will provide them with the lifeline they need to maintain inventory and pay their workers.

Third, we are helping Americans get the education they need to succeed in a global economy.  For years we've seen the price of tuition skyrocket at the same time that it became more and more important to earn a college degree.  And that's why we are making college more affordable for every American that needs a hand.  That is why we are committed to simplifying the student loan process so more families can get the help they need.  And that's also why our $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college will help us reach a goal that will help our country lead in the 21st century:  By 2020, Americans once again will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Fourth, we are helping more Americans purchase homes that they can afford.  Just as we must put an end to the irresponsible lending and borrowing that created the housing bubble, we must restore the home as a source of stability and an anchor of the American Dream.  That's why we're providing a tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers, which will put a home within reach for hardworking Americans who are playing by the rules and making responsible choices.  And by the way, there are at least a couple of folks here who have already used that $8,000 credit, and I think it's wonderful to see that this is already prompting some willingness for people to go ahead and make that first-time purchase where they thought maybe it was out of reach before.

Fifth, we know that tax relief must be joined with fiscal discipline.  Americans are making hard choices in their budgets, and we've got to tighten our belts in Washington, as well.  And that's why we've already identified $2 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade.  And that's why we're cutting programs that don't work, contracts that aren't fair, and spending that we don't need.

We're also doing away with the unnecessary giveaways that have thrown our tax code out of balance.  I said this during the campaign, I'm now saying it as President:  We need to stop giving tax breaks to companies that stash profits or ship jobs overseas so we can invest in job creation here at home.  And we need to end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, so that people like me, who are extraordinarily lucky, are paying the same rates that the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans paid when Bill Clinton was President.

Finally, we need to simplify a monstrous tax code that is far too complicated for most Americans to understand, but just complicated enough for the insiders who know how to game the system.  So I've already started by asking Paul Volcker and my Economic Recovery Board to do a thorough review of how to simplify our tax code, and to report back to me by the end of this year.  It's going to take time to undo the damage of years of carve-outs and loopholes.  But I want every American to know that we will rewrite the tax code so that it puts your interests over any special interests.  And we'll make it easier, quicker and less expensive for you to file a return, so that April 15th is not a date that is approached with dread every year.

Now, I just had a conversation with these wonderful Americans, and like people I talked to all across the country, they're not looking for a free ride.  Every single person here is working hard and deserves a chance to get ahead.  And they're a family like -- families like the Kirkwoods, who just want to own their own business and put away some money away for their kids' college tuition.  And they're workers like Clark Harrison, behind me, who has worked hard and wants to be able to purchase that first home.  They're business owners like Alan Givens, who wants his company to sustain itself through bad times as well as the good.  And I was encouraged to hear that Alan's business is going strong on a whole bunch of clean energy measures that he's helping to promote in his area.

For too long, we've seen taxes used as a wedge to scare people into supporting policies that actually increased the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams.  That has to change, and that's the work that we've begun.  We've passed tax cuts that will help our economy grow.  We've made a clear promise that families that earn less than $250,000 a year will not see their taxes increase by a single dime.  And we have kept to those promises that were made during the campaign.  We've given tax relief to the Americans who need it and the workers who have earned it.  And we're helping more Americans move towards their American Dream by going to school, owning a home, keeping their business and raising their family.

So on this April 15th, we're reminded of the enormous responsibility that comes with handling peoples' tax dollars. And we're renewing our commitment to a simpler tax code that rewards work and the pursuit of the American Dream.  And I just again want to personally thank all of the families, folks who join me here today, because they inspire me to do what I do every single day.

All right, thank you, everybody.

                          END                   12:10 P.M. EDT

Comments () | Archives (17)

The comments to this entry are closed.

"They need a government that is working to create jobs and opportunity for them, rather than simply giving more and more to those at the very top in the false hope that wealth automatically trickles down."

This is straight POOP! OK, sorry, wealth will not AUTOMATICALLY trickle down to the people that do not want to work for a living.

Republicans? Ha..more propaganda from the Obama propaganda machine that has been churning out progpaganda for 12 months.

We..the people...will not stand by and watch the dissembling of this Republic.

I am a lifelong Democrat...Like hell this is all about Republicans..

So did he remember that whole speech all by himself or did he have 3 or 4 teleprompters going?

Huh - Rick Santelli started this?

I guess that's why Dick Armey started the ball rolling back in January, and the website was registered in August of 2008.

I'll be darned. Rick Santelli has a time machine that he can travel back and forth through time.

Smells like a "spontaneous grass roots" movement that was started 9 months ago...when the previous president was in office.

Go, rich people! All you quarter-million-and-up-earning taxpayers, forced to pay taxes only 10% less than during the Reagan administration -- this is the time to MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD!

Do you mind if the rest of us stay home?

More shoddy reporting...great job of regurgitating the swill.

I'm sure it was very frustating finding time to deal with all the issues with the dog story to do and all. Please, Obama has 4 yrs then he's gone. We'll be pay off this debt through our children and grandchildren. He must be very frustrated.

The person who wrote this article is mistaken , i am not and never will be a "gun toting" Conservative i am what you call an Old time Democrat, we need to follow the foundation of our nation the Constitution. THe government is to rule in interstate commerce and to protect us, not telling us we owe for a bank's or a car dealers mistake! so who ever wrote this articleis wrong!

The richest one percent are protesting a two percent increase in their taxes oh boo matter how much they make its never enough. The rich have been doing very well for the past twenty years. Its time the GREED stops and they pay their fair share of taxes.

Politicians and pundits that ignore or misread the message of today`s tea parties will be for a big surprise Nov,2010.

The protesters are protesting the spending that has been going on for years, starting with Bush. This is not a Democrat or a Republican issue, this is a spending issue. We are leveraging the country to the hilt and many people are worried, if this plan doesn't work we will be bankrupt. In the past 3 years we have found out that everything the government and corporate America has told us has been a complete and total lie. I voted for Obama, I'm worried. The protesters are too and have every right to be, this is America.

" wealth will not AUTOMATICALLY trickle down to the people that do not want to work for a living. "

Or to anyone else downstream.

Remember "voodoo economics"? That's what Bush senior called trickle-down before he drank the GOP cool aide and was elected president.

I've been waiting to see that trickle down actually get down since, well forever. Doesn't seem to be happening yet.

But if you're unhappy about taxes, you can always move to one of the countries that has lower taxes than the US. Wait, you probably wont find any, unless you're rich enough to dodge them.

Of course you'd do that in the US anyway, and those people certainly aren't attending teabagging astroturf parties.

This is all unfortunate noise that distracts us from the real work necessary to right the ship after 8 years without a grown up at the helm.

The GOP is so devoid of ideas that they've been reduced to literally protesting the repercussions of their parties policies.

I'm sure magical pixies will provide for public policing and fire departments as all these "patriots" make us free from the social responsibilities of paying taxes.

But wait, aren't things like federally maintained highways socialism?

If the teabaggers represent the strengths of capitalism, then sign me up for *not* that.

MSNBC CNN Mock Tea Parties

I heard about the CNN reporter badgering attendees and quoting the Obama party line and looked up the link in the attached.
They are links to CNN and MSNBC stories on the tea parties with Tea Bagging sexual slurs that included prepared comedy routines, using Dick Armey in a disgusting way as well as combative reporters challenging protestors instead of simply reporting.
How can I not now be convinced that the Media (in the guise of CNN and MSNBC at least) are in the bag (no pun intended) for Obama. This is shameful. WHere is their journalistic integrity????? Do they not know their history? Do they not know the dangers of encouraging cults of personality and no opposing views?
This link is video and text on a cnn correspondent getting combative with an interviewee in tea party crowd and calls them anti government anti cnn and even tries to challenge them on the merits of obamas tax rebate. THis reporter should be fired!
THis link shows msnbc going off on tea bagging at the tea parties. WHere is the FCC? We all know what tea bagging means! Repulsive!
This is Anderson cooper riffing on tea bagging. He should be fired and his channel should be fined heavily for airing this trash. These are prepared profane statements and that cant be in the spirit of what the FCC allows to be aired!

Obama Taxes = Depression

Under Obama's plan he will raise taxes by over 800 billion dollars, once we swallow the stimulus bait, in an economy that may be on the verge of going into a recession while the Stock market seems to teeter on the brink. Does he not know enough about history that he does not remember Herbert Hoover?
In 1929 an Herbert Hoover raised taxes in the midst of an economic and Wall Street crisis. Economists will tell you that that piece of genius made a bad recession roll over into the Great Depression. Here we are a mere 80 years later and Obama has forgotten this devastating lesson from history.

At the same time he will spend far more than that per year , in the form of annual deficits, in his first four years as president, destroying the value of the U.S. dollar. Perhaps we too will soon be using wheelbarrows full of money to pay for a loaf of bread. After $5trilion dollars of deficit spending our money should be worthless.

Historical precedent is why the EU President calls Obamas tax and spend plans "the path to hell" and why even France and Germany are actively calling for Obama to reverse course.

you guys do know that for most of us regular people taxes will be going down right? The taxes that are going up were made by arnold a republican. Also repbluicans want more tax breaks for buisness. People this day are so ignorant


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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